sarahStarz has picked its next original series, giving a series order to drama Flesh and Bone, created/executive produced by Moira Walley-Beckett (Breaking Bad) and executive produced by Lawrence Bender, Kevin Brown and John Melfi. The green light comes after an extensive nationwide search involving thousands of hopefuls resulted in the casting of dancer Sarah Hay (Black Swan) in the lead role. Flesh And Bone follows a young ballet dancer, Claire (Hay), who has a distinctly troubled past, as she joins a prestigious ballet arabesque photocompany in New York. The dark and gritty series will unflinchingly explore the dysfunction and glamour of the ballet world. “From the beginning, we all agreed this project could not go forward unless we found a world class dancer who had the ability to convey the widest range of emotions that Moira has written,” sais Starz CEO Chris Albrecht. “This is one of the most challenging and dynamic characters I have even seen and am thrilled to say we found our Claire in Ms. Hay.” Added Moira Walley-Beckett, “Sarah Hay embodies the role of Claire just as I dreamt her.”

Flesh and Bone had been on the fast track, picking up speed in November when the project locked in four accomplished dancers for supporting roles, former American Ballet Theatre principal dancer Irina Dvorovenko, current American Ballet Theatre soloist Sascha Radetsky (Center Stage), Ballet Arizona company dancer Raychel Diane Weiner, and Emily Tyra (Boardwalk Empire). Additionally, Ethan Stiefel, star of the movies Center Stage and Center Stage: Turn It Up, joined the project as consultant and choreographer. Then in December, Starz pulled out of its commitment to Sky Atlantic’s upcoming drama series Fortitude when its production schedule no longer guaranteed a delivery for Q4 of 2014. Starz indicated it would fill the spot with internally developed projects, with Flesh and Bone among the frontrunner.  The slot is still up for grabs as Flesh and Bone will need more time and is slated for 2015,  with production scheduled to begin in New York City in early 2014. Among the other candidates, Survivor’s Remorse, exec produced by LeBron James, has been picking up heat, with some preliminary casting already underway. Walley-Beckett, Bender and Brown all have strong connections to the ballet world. Bender and UTA-repped Walley-Beckett are former ballet dancers, and Brown’s family is made up entirely of former ballet dancers and was the basis for the 1977 feature The Turning Point.